Monday, 23 December 2013

{British Recipe} Bacon Roly Polies

This post has been sponsored by Great British Chefs.

Every Christmas I pick a British recipe to try. We  make something from each of our cultures. But since none of us are British I'm on the hunt to find a really great recipe to add to the Christmas meal. I have found a winner!

Great British Chefs have some great apps! Which are FREE. Boom! They are easy to use and you can bookmark your favourites to try at a later date. I picked these Bacon Roly Polies off the Kids app. When I saw these I thought there is no way my kid could make something so...posh. Well, I am here to tell you that every step is so easy for even a child's little hands to do. I'm really impressed. Sebastian helped me crumble the dough, roll it out, sprinkle the cheese and placed them on the cooking sheet. Easy peasy!

While Sebastian is napping I have eaten 3 of these savory rolls. I love them and I'm adding them to my regular breakfast rotation. If you are wanting to add a British recipe to your Christmas brunch, I would say go for these Bacon Roly Polies. You can find the recipe here!

I'm also going to try these Mince Pies, Mint bon-bons and Children's mulled-wine jellies! Get to cooking a British Christmas this year!


Monday, 4 November 2013

Unique Places to Stay in Scotland

I get several emails each month asking about cottages and unique places to stay in Scotland. I think it is time that I shared some of this fun information for all to see. Whether you are planning a trip to Scotland in the near future or just wanting to live vicariously there are so many interesting places to stay in Scotland. Why choose a traditional hotel? I wouldn't even dream of it.

photo copyright Visit Scotland

Chauffeur's Apartment at Lochinch Castle
A 3 bedroom self-catering apartment and is located in the picturesque Victorian Stable Courtyard at Lochinch Castle, the private home of the Earl and Countess of Stair.
The surrounding area is full of scenic treasures, including deserted sandy beaches, exotic gardens, rolling hillsides and open estuaries. The Southern Upland Way is located close by as is the River Luce which offers excellent fly fishing. Stranraer town is just three miles away with a wide range of pubs, restaurants, shops and activities including cinema, swimming and a museum.  Other local attractions include a whisky distillery, Mull of Galloway Lighthouse, Wigtown Book Town and the picturesque sea-side village of Port Patrick where guests can enjoy excellent seafood restaurants, village stores and pubs. They even have bicycles available for use!
Location:: Lochinch Castle, Stranraer, Galloway
Prices:: start at £390 per week
Type:: Self Catering
Rating:: 4 stars Scottish Tourist Board

photo copyright Fasque House Holiday Cottages

A charming and beautifully appointed holiday property located on the grounds of the stunning Fasque House Estate. Our two-bedroom cottage easily adapts to stays for families or friends. A calm retreat to rest and restore energy levels, ready for tomorrow.

Fasque’s four hundred acres are the natural home to a host of Scottish wildlife.
 There’s also the peaceful pleasure of wide, open spaces, from wild expanses to riverbanks. As if the Estate isn’t enough, your quiet country retreat has much to enjoy right on its doorstep. An easy drive opens up a world of activities to try and historic sites to explore. From golfing, family activities, castles and whiskey distilleries.
Location:: Fasque House Estate, Fettercairn, Laurencekirk, Kincardineshire 
Prices:: start at £240 for 2-3 nights
Type:: Self Catering
Rating:: 4 Stars Scottish Tourist Board

photo copyright Buchan Ness Lighthouse

Skerry Cottage, Buchan Ness Lighthouse
Breath taking scenery of one of Scotland's best kept secrets, the Buchan Coast, the lighthouse is less than an hours drive from Aberdeen. With miles of empty beaches, some of the best Golf Courses and Surfing in Britain, and within easy reach of Castles and Whisky.

Location::  Skerry Cottage, Buchan Ness Lighthouse, Boddam, Aberdeenshire
Prices:: start at £216 per short weekend!
Type:: Self catering
Rating:: No rating from the tourist board yet

photo copyright Visit Scotland

Raise your spirits with a peaceful and uplifting stay at Parrandier - a rural Scottish church set in 2 acres of gardens, close to the sea at the Moray Firth and to the Grampian Highlands.

Location:: Parrandier, Meft Road, Urquhart By Elgin, Moray
Prices:: start at just £33 per night
Type:: Bed and Breakfast {dinner available upon request}
Rating:: 4 stars Scottish Tourist Board

photo copyright Glennapp Castle

Glenapp Castle is a Scottish Baronial castle set in 36 acres of stunning gardens and woodland, offering true exclusivity. It is ideal for a relaxing break or to hire on an exclusive use basis for a wedding, family gathering or corporate event.
Guests may spend rewarding moments strolling through the terraced formal gardens or play croquet on the lawn, or in more energetic mode, tennis on the all-weather tennis court. Dining in our award winning restaurant each evening at the castle is a peerless experience with the finest cuisine created by a skilled and professional team and complemented by carefully selected wines from the castle cellars.

The surrounding Ayrshire and Galloway countryside is ruggedly beautiful with many places of interest for guests to visit as well as numerous activities to enjoy either in the castle grounds or nearby.

Location:: Ballantrae, Ayrshire
Prices:: start at £235 per night
Type:: Hotel
Rating:: 5 Stars Scottish Tourist Board

photo copyright Kilmeny

Kilmeny is situated on a working farm just at the edge of Ballygrant Village only a few miles south of Port Askaig Ferry Terminal on the Hebridean Island of Islay.

Location:: Isle of Islay, Argyll
Prices:: start at £125 per night {breakfast included}
Type:: Guesthouse
Rating:: 5 stars from the Scottish Tourist Board

photo copyright The Lint Mill

The Lint Mill offers 4 star luxury bed & breakfast on a delightful traditional smallholding farm in the rolling countryside of Scotland’s Southern Uplands. Situated only 45 minutes from Edinburgh and Glasgow.
Sometimes it’s the little things that make all the difference to a trip away and at The Lint Mill the home produce, the fresh flowers, home-made cakes and bookshelves stacked with games, jigsaws, novels and maps all make this a special place to stay.

Whether you choose to snuggle in front of the cosy wood-burner in the chilly winter evenings or relax in the pretty walled cottage garden on a summer afternoon, The Lint Mill is charming in all seasons.

There are plenty of footpaths all around the smallholding, choose from a brief stroll along the river in the river paddock, a walk along the old drovers road or serious all day hike in the lovely Scottish Borders.

Location:: Carnwath, Lanark, Lanarkshire
Prices:: start at £40 per night
Type:: Bed and Breakfast
Rating:: 4 stars Scottish Tourist Board

photo copyright Hebridean Huts

Luxury glamping cabins on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. Stunning coastal location on a working alpaca farm at the edge of the Atlantic. Hebridean Huts are in the perfect location to enjoy panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean and the rugged Lewis coastline. A break in this rural idyll is much more than a holiday - it is the chance to unwind surrounded by nature, seascape and landscape - to truly escape the 9 to 5 and live on island time.
Location:: Isle of Lewis, Western Isles
Prices:: start at £85 per night
Type:: Self Catering Camping Pods
Rating:: no rating yet

photo copyright European Waterways

A cruise aboard Scottish Highlander along the Great Glen as you admire some of Scotland’s finest scenery will be unforgettable.  

Location:: Fort Augustus, Inverness
Prices:: £375 per night
Type:: Canal Narrowboat Barge Hotel
Rating:: no rating yet

photo copyright Kingsburg Boathouse

Exceptionally beautiful, secluded, romantic stone cottage for two, located right on the edge of one of Skye's grandest sea lochs. Views are to the Cuillin mountains, the Outer Hebrides as well as to the otters on the rocks below.

Location:: Snizort, Isle of Skye
Prices:: £1200 per week
Type:: Self catering Boathouse
Rating:: 5 stars Scottish Tourist Board

photo copyright Aldourie Castle

Aldourie Castle {the whole thing!!}
Aldourie Castle is a unique and inspiring place to relax, indulge and enjoy good times with family and friends. Set within a private estate guests take exclusive hire of the 13-bed castle as their own home for a holiday. It is available for exclusive hire throughout the year for guests to take over as their own castle for their holiday, short break or special event.
Location:: Inverness, Inverness Shire
Prices:: start at £12,000 for 2 nights
Type:: rental of the whole castle
Rating:: 5 stars Scottish Tourist Board

*prices were correct at time of publication.
*before booking be sure to check out customer ratings at Trip Advisor

So, which would you stay in?

Friday, 18 October 2013

More Pictures of Dunnottar Castle

I wanted to finish sharing photos of Dunnottar Castle because I said I would. This place was just so very cool. We're thinking about a season pass! I can see many more trips here in the future.

Take a peak!


Tuesday, 15 October 2013

A Perfect Saturday and Dunnottar Castle

I've been trying to write this post since Saturday night. But, I have a toddler that needs me  if I  happen to sit at the computer. Then bedtime comes and I'm just as tired as he is!

I need to tell you about our weekend. It was one of those weekends that just kind of ended up being perfect in every way. Filled with all my favourite things.

We've been exploring the city and getting to know our way around. I truly love living in the city and am so grateful we have this opportunity to be so close to the things that we need. But Friday night I knew we needed out. I grew up in West Virginia. I love me some country roads and wide open spaces. I needed a day of just that. So I told LD we'd be going to see Dunnottar Castle just a mere 15 miles from our front door. He was totally game.

It seems this is the place for new Aberdonian expats to frequent. The famous Dunnottar Castle! I was getting tired of saying, "no we've not been yet." We jumped in the car early Saturday morning and off we went!

It was a beautiful day too. The sun was shining and the blue sky was glorious. Just what we needed. Sebastian fell asleep in the car and I settled in for the drive. Luis surprised me by taking the coastal route! At first I didn't know what he was doing and started to freak out that he was going off course {that dreaded type A personality in me...} but he told me to just enjoy the drive. I couldn't. I didn't know what was happening. But again he told me to chill out and enjoy the drive. That's when the coast came into view.

Ever since I worked on cruise ships in my early 20's I have felt a peace around the ocean. There is something about the sea that makes me feel at home. It was the most gorgeous drive. I rolled down the windows and took a deep breath of that salty sea air.

There were farmhouses and little derelict cottages along the way. It was the picture of Scotland. Then we came upon the crowing jewel Dunnottar Castle!

Isn't she stunning?! She is the perfect setting for a novel. One I just read too. The cliffs themselves were magnificent but to have a castle on top made it extra special.

The history for Dunnottar is extensive. Dating back to 5000 BC for the site alone. Christianity was brought to Dunnottar in the 5th century and King Donald II even defended it from the Vikings in the 9th century. Dunnottar Castle was home to one of the most powerful families in Scotland, the Earls of Marischal. Their job was to keep the Honours of Scotland {crown jewels} safe. Dunnottar was actually under siege for eight months just to get the crown jewels! They were smuggled from the castle and were hidden in a nearby chapel for 11 years before they were recovered. Wow! What a legacy! But, in the end the 10th Earl of Marischal was convicted of treason and the Government seized the property.

Go on and take a peek!


The castle is huge. Every turn produces more and more. You think it might never end. There are several floors to explore as well as hidden nooks and crannies. It is incredible.

After we saw the castle we went into the town Stonehaven. LD has spotted a park for Sebastian to get his wiggles out. We spent the rest of the afternoon right there. Enjoying all there was to do and watching Sebastian enjoy the pirate ship and all the fun there was to be had.

I saw a path that looked interesting so I told the boys I'd be back in just a minute. When I crested the hill I realized we were right there at the beach! What could be more perfect?! I spotted a tiny ice cream shop that made handmade ice cream and just knew I needed to go get my boys. Let it be said that the only thing that Sebastian doesn't mind waiting for is ice cream. We enjoyed a walk down the beach and called it a day. We made it back home just in time for our groceries to be delivered.

It was just a really nice day. It had all my favourite things; family, fun and food!

PS stick around this week and I'll show you more of Dunnottar Castle!

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

{Ask Mary} Housing in Scotland

Ellie asked, " I'd love to know more about typical housing in Scotland. Our friends in Ireland told us that most places are furnished. Sounds funny to this American, but it makes sense too."


I've lived in Scotland for almost 6 years. I've lived in 3 cities. When we were looking for an apartment just before Sebastian was born we looked in about a dozen different areas surrounding Glasgow/Paisley/Greenock. We never once found a furnished apartment. There isn't a market for it.

Aberdeen is a whole different ball game. We couldn't find anything NOT furnished. I asked our estate agent why this was and she said that it all has to do with the oil and gas industry and Aberdeen University. Aberdeen is a very transient city. People move in for just a couple of years and then they move back out. Their job is done. Not to mention how expensive it is to live here! There is a huge market for serviced and furnished apartments. People are paying big money to have everything taken care of for them.

We live in the city centre so that is more of the reason why we found a furnished flat. It makes sense that people want to be close to their places of work/study and that they would be the ones to need such places. To find unfurnished places you'd need to go out of town. Even then the ratio is 5 furnished to 1 unfurnished. It is what it is.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Being a Monica

I'm a Monica. I can't even believe it. After taking this personality test I've just been crazy thinking about the fact that I'm a Monica. Which makes me a Monica!! Am I really that neurotic?!

I'm a Monica and it pains me to write that. While I'm not a "neat freak" I do happen to like things done it a certain way/order. When LD tries to help me I freak out a little bit until I find myself yelling for him to stop. Seriously. What is wrong with me?! The man wants to help me do some of the chores and I am telling him to stop because he isn't doing it the right way. *facepalm*

I'm a Monica. I was going to start cleaning the apartment on Saturday afternoon. But, I had to do things in order of importance before I could even start. I had to unload the groceries, which then led to organizing the cupboards. Then I needed to start some laundry because why waste such precious time when I was cleaning. That whole kill two birds with one stone thing. Then I needed to start the dishwasher because well three birds with one stone is even better! I kept going on like that and I hadn't even started cleaning! Once I started cleaning I had to start at the bottom and work my way up {we live on 3 floors}. LD came in the kitchen to get Sebastian a snack. He left the wrappers on the counter. I then had to wipe down the whole kitchen again before I could move on with the house cleaning. Just because of some wrappers!

I'm a Monica. I can be competitive. But just watch out. I need to win. I don't play any sports {I have not a single athletic bone in my body} but I do love a good board game. This summer I went to camp with the teenagers from my church. I taught them how to play Phase 10. I was secretly coming up with a strategy to beat them all. I wanted to beat kids! I have a problem. When LD and I play a game {doesn't matter what it is} we play for something. The prize is always enticing.There is something in me that has to beat him!

I'm a Monica. I can be bossy. I don't mean to be but I think I can see all angles and so people should just listen to me and I'll solve all their problems. Because seriously, I could if they just did what I told them to do. I tell LD every Saturday morning what we are doing for the day. The whole day. I've planned out every minute. No wonder than man doesn't want to do a single thing after church on Sunday!

Even reading over this post makes me cringe. I can't believe I'm a Monica. I'm embarrassed. But, I also have some light shed on me. I can see clearly now... and I want to just chill out a bit.

Monica has some really good qualities too though. We're both fiercely loyal friend. My Mom says, "When you're friends with Mary, you're her friend for life." Its true. When you're my friend I've got your back. Always. You can count on me. I don't do fake friends.

I'm a Monica. While I may not have liked to see myself in such a way, I am who I am. I'm working on not being so neurotic and trying to give up control more often. I'm going to accept that I'm a Monica and rock it!!

Monday, 30 September 2013

Cottages in Aberdeen

I love cottages. Aberdeen has no shortage! I love finding these little gems on my daily walk with Sebastian. They give me a little something to dream about. I imagine the insides looking just like Kate Winslet's cottage in The Holiday.

Come take a little walk with me and see what special homes are here in Aberdeen.


You can come along on our daily walks with us. Just follow us on Instagram!